ORANGE, Texas — Following an upward trajectory into an enviable final-round advantage, Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Miss., leads Day 3 of the Folds of Honor Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River with a three-day total of 34 pounds, 4 ounces.
Posting his best effort of the week — a five-bass limit that weighed 12-14 — on Semifinal Saturday, Mosley heads into Championship Sunday with a lead of 3-1 over Alabama pro Keith Poche.
“It was a fun day,” Mosley said. “I caught a bunch of fish and I finally got a good bite. I just have to go out and catch 10 to 11 pounds tomorrow.”
Mosley began his third morning at a blistering pace, with a limit of 12 pounds just past 7 a.m. Boxing his first keeper — a 2-pounder — 17 minutes after the 6 a.m. takeoff, Mosley anchored his bag with a 4 1/2-pounder around 6:30.
During the first three days of the Elite’s previous trip to the Sabine in 2021, Mosley ran 110 miles to fish Clear Creek on Houston’s east side. This year, he started each morning within a couple miles of takeoff and then closed out his day looking for upgrades around reeds and pads in Taylor Bayou.
He caught his bass fishing a popper, a Texas-rigged Senko and a power shot around seawalls, barge tie-ups, laydowns and grass.
“It has worked out differently every day,” Mosley said. “The first day, I started out with a small limit (close) and then I ran over to Taylor and caught my two best fish. Friday, all my fish here were about the same size and when I ran to Taylor, I only culled up a couple of ounces.
“Today, I had that 4 1/2-pound kicker and that boosted me up. I caught six or seven in Taylor but none of them helped.”
With 14 Top 10s to his credit, Mosley has recorded five second-place finishes. In 2021, he notched back-to-back runner-up finishes at Pickwick Lake and the Sabine River.
Despite a 3-pound advantage on a fishery where big bites are scarce, Mosley said he’ll likely stay in his starting area all day and squeeze it for all its worth.
With his first Elite win just one solid limit away, Mosley said he’s motivated by the quest for redemption, as well as the desire to perform well in front of one of the largest crowds to show up for Bassmaster events.
“It would be awesome,” Mosley said. “These people here are awesome, they love us, everyone is so nice, the crowds are huge and they put on a big party.”
Poche added a third-round catch of 10-9 to his previous two limits of 11-2 and 9-8. He holds a three-day total of 31-3.
Sticking with the game plan that has served him well the previous two days, Poche started his day in a deep backwater pond linked to the Neches River by a narrow canal. Notably, the Day 3 bite was a little different from the previous two days, in which the canal produced best.
“The first two days, I fished all around that thing, but this was the first day I had a decent bite in there — it was always little rats,” Poche said. “Today, I caught three inside and one in the canal.
“The fish were up around the edge on laydowns and grass patches. Today, it was as low as it’s been since I’ve been fishing. I think that might have pulled out some of those better fish that were way tight to the bank. My first bite was my biggest one.”
Poche caught three of his pond/canal bass on a SPRO Bronzeye popping frog and one on a Texas-rigged Berkley Pit Boss. After leaving the pond, Poche finished his day in Cow Bayou where the Pit Boss produced his fifth keeper.
Despite his success, Poche said he’s contemplating a Championship Sunday change.
“I was (considering) running up the Sabine River this morning,” he said. “I may do that tomorrow. I just feel like I’m not catching enough weight. I’m doing good, but I feel like I’m scrapping and if I’m not fishing other places, I’m not getting what I need.
“I can’t continue laying on one place. I may throw up a Hail Mary and go up the Sabine. I’m here to win.”
Clark Wendlandt of Leander, Texas, is in third place with 29-6. After posting 10-3 and 8-13 the first two days, Wendlandt entered Saturday in ninth place. Adding 10-6 moved him up six spots.
“I think they’re biting better in the afternoon; I just caught my better ones in the morning,” Wendlandt said.
Wendlandt caught his fish by flipping soft plastics. He tried reaction baits but couldn’t get bit.
“I got some reaction bites earlier in the week, but in the mornings every day of the tournament, it’s been dead slick, calm and no breeze,” Wendlandt said. “The sun’s been up, there’s been (little to no) cloud cover and I just think that messes them up. They’re just not ready to chase.”
Day 1 leader Chad Pipkens of DeWitt, Mich., is in the lead for the $2,000 Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Tournament award with the 5-12 largemouth he caught on Day 1. Clifford Pirch of Payson, Ariz., earned Saturday’s daily $1,000 Big Bass award for a 5-8.
Pipkens also leads for the VMC Monster Bag award with his opening limit of 14-7.
Alabama pro Kyle Welcher is in eighth place with 27-11 and has taken the lead in the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with 510 points. Brandon Cobb of Greenwood, S.C., is in second with 499 points, followed by John Cox of DeBary, Fla., with 483, Tyler Rivet of Raceland, La., with 467 and Drew Cook of Cairo, Ga., with 456.
Will Davis Jr. of Sylacauga, Ala., leads the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Rookie of the Year standings with 449 points.
The Top 10 remaining anglers will take off at 6 a.m. CT Sunday from the City of Orange Boat Ramp. The weigh-in will be held at the ramp at 3 p.m., with the winning angler earning $100,000. FS1 will broadcast live with the leaders beginning at 7 a.m. CT with continuing coverage on Bassmaster.com.
The Folds of Honor Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River is being hosted by the Greater Orange Chamber of Commerce.
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Dakota Lithium, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Lew’s, Marathon, Triton Boats, VMC
2023 Bassmaster Conservation Partners: AFTCO, Yamaha Rightwaters